Editor’s note: Former Harvard hurler Frank Herrmann ’06, a prospect
with the Cleveland Indians, reported to camp in Winter Haven, Fla., in
early March. This is his diary.
The end of my first week at
the Indians’ spring training consisted of a lot of poking and prodding
(and by poking I don’t mean getting “poked” on the Facebook by some
creepy Joe from Eliot House).
The more than one hundred and
fifty minor leaguers who reported to Winter Haven have had to endure
endless testing, both psychological and physical.
is required to provide urine and blood samples that test for everything
from HIV to street drugs to steroids. We have also had to undergo eye
tests, orthopedic testing, basic physicals, and a series of
psychological group and one-on-one meetings with the team psychologist.
Everyone seems to understand that the team wants to, in a sense, “value
their assets,” but the main complaint is the enormous amount of
downtime because of the seemingly arbitrary manner in which the tests
It has been interesting to witness the
different ways that my teammates have decided to pass the downtime.
Methods range from the trendy (PSPs, iPods, and Sudoku puzzles) to the
time-tested (endless games of poker).
As for me, I have
decided to pester some of my Latin lockermates by incessantly picking
their brains in the hopes of learning Spanish. Of my practice group of
nine, six players exclusively speak Spanish, one player exclusively
speaks Korean, and the other is my roommate who I already have gotten
to know well.
So I guess you could say it gets a little lonely.
I would be remiss if I were to say there were not selfish reasons for
my wanting to learn the language. Over my short time in and around
professional baseball it has become abundantly clear that knowledge of
the Spanish language is a considerable advantage.
practice and on-field instruction, we have about two positional
meetings a day. The meetings usually consist of an explanation in
English followed by a translation to Spanish.
To be able to
speak both languages immediately makes a prospective coach, or even a
player, more attractive to an organization, as they can eliminate the
need of an otherwise useless translator.
One reason I bring
this up is the growing trend of Ivy League graduates filling
front-office positions. Last year, newly named Tampa Bay Devil Rays
team president Matthew Silverman ’98 joined the Rangers’ Jon Daniels
(Cornell), the Red Sox’ Theo Epstein (Yale), and former Dodgers’ GM
Paul DePodesta (Harvard) as the fifth former Ivy League graduate to run
a major league team. Even the top dog of my team, Mark Shapiro, is a
former Princeton Tiger.
Let’s face it: running a Big League
club beats the heck out of I-banking in a cubicle the size of a closet.
Most people would do it just for fun: more than 5 million people played
fantasy baseball in the last year alone.
If you are in any way
interested in getting involved in Major League Baseball in any
capacity, I would strongly advise learning Spanish, Korean, Chinese or
any foreign language in which the game of baseball is becoming
Take the recent World Baseball Classic as an example of Major League Baseball’s intent to globalize America’s pastime.
wannabe Theo Epsteins out there should get themselves into an
introductory language class (unless you are like me and wouldn’t touch
the Monday through Friday classes). Otherwise, Morgan Stanley, here you
—Herrmann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His diary appears every Wednesday.